Lost City of Z, The (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 29-Nov-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Featurette-Percy Fawcett (5:21)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(3:02)
Interviews-Crew-James Gray (6:05)
Interviews-Cast-Sienna Miller (4:24)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 141:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Gray
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Charlie Hunnam
Sienna Miller
Robert Pattinson
Edward Ashley
Angus MacFadyen
Tom Holland
Ian McDiarmid


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Christopher Spelman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Ireland 1905: Major Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), an officer in the British army with a loving wife, Nina (Sienna Miller), and young son, Jack, chafes at his lack of preferment due to his not having fought in any of England’s recent wars and, as one superior officer puts it, “an unfortunate choice of ancestors”. In a change of fortune Fawcett is chosen by the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) to go to South America and to settle the location of the border between Bolivia and Brazil in Amazonia. Journeying up river through the jungle and suffering from illness, native attacks and the lack of food with companions including trusted aides Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and Arthur Manley (Edward Ashley), Percy hears of the existence of a fabled lost golden city in the jungle. At the headwaters of the river Percy finds some artefacts that seem to support the claim and he becomes convinced that such a city and civilization had existed.

     Percy returns to England to a hero’s welcome but his idea of a major lost city in the jungle, which he calls Z, is ridiculed by the members of the RGS who, convinced of the superiority of white civilization, cannot accept that the savages of the Amazon could ever have created such a civilization. However, Percy receives support from wealthy James Murray (Angus Macfadyen), who had himself gained a reputation as an explorer with Shackleton’s polar expedition, and in 1912 Fawcett, Costin, Manley and Murray return to the Amazon to search for Z. However, after months of privation the expedition fails mainly due to the weakness of Murray which starts a bitter dispute between the two men and causes Fawcett to resign from the RGS.

     Before anything can be resolved, however, World War 1 breaks out; as a serving officer Fawcett returns to the army and fights in the Battle of the Somme where he is gassed and for a time loses his eyesight. By 1923 he has recovered and at the urging of his son Jack (Tom Holland), who is now grown up and wants to accompany his father, they decide to return to the Amazon and, once and for all, settle the existence of Z. Although Costin declines to join the new expedition, Nina reluctantly agrees and in 1925 father and son are in Amazonia pushing on into the jungle, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) where they disappear, never to be heard of again.

     The Lost City of Z is written and directed by James Gray based on the non-fiction book by David Grann. Gray has hardly been prolific, only directing five feature films in two decades including Little Odessa (1994), We Own the Night (2007) and The Immigrant (2013); all these films were set in Gray’s native New York and all bar Little Odessa featured Joaquin Phoenix. The Lost City of Z, set in Ireland and Amazonia and with no sign of Joaquin Phoenix, marks a complete change of direction for Gray.

     The Lost City of Z was shot on 35 mm film by cinematographer Darius Khondji (whose diverse credits include Delicatessen (1991), Se7en (1995) and Evita (1996), for which he received an Oscar nomination) in Northern Ireland and Colombia and it looks stunning. Most scenes in either location have a wonderful clarity and depth of field, even under diffused lighting, and the colours are vibrant although there are many darkish scenes in London and inside the RGS. The sound design was also excellent with insects, animal calls and running water in the jungle, the thud of hooves in the opening hunt and the gunshots and explosions of the Somme sequence. As well, the cast is impressive. Charlie Hunnam, perhaps best known for his role in the long running Sons of Anarchy TV series and, perhaps for some of the wrong reasons, in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) is excellent as the complex and driven Percy Fawcett, Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen in the Twilight series of films) is a good foil and Sienna Miller makes the most of her screen time. Also in the cast are rising star Tom Holland, the new Spider-Man, and veteran Ian McDiarmid, most familiar recently as the Supreme Chancellor in the Star Wars saga.

     With a good cast, an acclaimed director and sumptuous cinematography The Lost City of Z was praised by critics, earning a rottentomatoes.com score of 87%, but it failed to impress the public and made less than $9 million at the box office, apparently only about half of its budget; the film currently has an audience score of 57% on rottentomatoes.com, rather an interesting variation. Why didn’t it attract an audience?

     The Lost City of Z is rather traditional, old fashioned storytelling. There are no camera tricks and the film sticks to a chronological story line which spans 20 years, the periods helpfully identified by screen captions. It is long, at 140 minutes, slow moving and episodic and takes aim at a number of complex issues including the nature of progress, aspects of civilization, hypocrisy, the slavery and destruction of the native people of the Amazon and gender roles within its framework of an adventure, without really developing any to any extent. The film was also apparently cut by the distributor to achieve a PG-13 rating (it is rated M here in Australia), resulting in the violence on the Somme and during Indian attacks being rather bloodless and the privations faced by the explorers in the jungle fairly anaemic. The Lost City of Z is also about an almost unknown topic and it compresses Fawcett’s eight expeditions to three; this is understandable for dramatic purposes but rather underplays the man’s obsession to find the lost civilization.

     The Lost City of Z is certainly worth watching for the visuals and the performance of Charlie Hunnam who is seldom off screen. I do think, however, that the film has too many things it wants to address when it could have concentrated on the man, his obsession and the adventure. A bit more blood, guts and privations may have helped too!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Lost City of Z is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     As noted in the review, The Lost City of Z was shot on film by cinematographer Darius Khondji and looks stunning. Most scenes show wonderful clarity and depth of field, even when diffused light filters from the tops of the jungle trees, or in scenes in London, inside the RGS or on the Somme, which have a dark palate. Elsewhere the green of the jungle or the fields of Ireland, the blue of the sky and water, the red of the jackets in the ball scene are vibrant. Blacks and shadow detail are excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Marks and artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Subtitles also automatically translate sections of non-English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HA MA 5.1.

     Dialogue is centred and easy to hear. The surrounds and rears are constantly in use for music, insects, animal calls, running water and rapids in the jungle, the thud of hooves in the opening hunt, the gunshots and explosions of the Somme sequence, the audience at the meeting of the RGS. There were also panning effects as the arrows loosed by the natives whizzed by or impact. The subwoofer added depth to the hooves, the battlefield, the roar of the waterfalls and rapids, the music and the thunder.

     The original score by Christopher Spelman was epic enough, although somewhat generic. However, it was supported by an impressive range of classical music, including by Johann Strauss, Mozart, Stravinsky, Ravel, Bach and Beethoven.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Featurette (5:21)

     This is a short look at the legacy of Percy Fawcett with film clips and comments by David Grann (the author of the book on which the film is based), a historian and broadcaster and an “ordinance survey analyst”.

Behind the Scenes (3:02)

     A bit of on-set footage, film clips and comments by David Grann (repeating pretty much all the same information from the previous mini-featurette), director James Gray and cast Sienna Miller and Charlie Hunnam in this mini-featurette that really tells us very little.

James Gray Interview (6:05)

     Answering questions shown on screen, Gray speaks about what drew him to this story, the casting process and why the themes of the film are still relevant today.

Sienna Miller Interview (4:24)

     Miller answering questions shown on screen speaks about what appealed to her about the role of Nina, filming in Northern Ireland, aspects of her character and working with the director and other cast members.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray of The Lost City of Z includes an audio commentary by the director James Gray, a couple of mini-featurettes (2:21 / 3:10) that seem to be different to ours and an “Expedition Journal”. The Region B release is identical to ours. The commentary gives a clear win to Region A.

Summary

     In this own day Percy Fawcett was a celebrity, known in both England and America for his exploits in the Amazon. Today he is practically forgotten; The Lost City of Z tells the story of this driven and complex man, his expeditions and obsession with proving that a civilization had existed in the Amazon. The subject matter is interesting, the film looks stunning and features an excellent performance by Charlie Hunnam but despite its length the film does not really involve one as it should.

     The video and audio are excellent. The extras are minor and we miss out on the commentary available in Region A.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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